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Should You Take the PSAT in 10th Grade?
Many students wonder how they can get ahead in an increasingly competitive college applications process. What small things can you do now, even in 10th grade, that will pay off later in high school? How can you get an edge early in your high school career?
Taking the PSAT as a sophomore is one thing you can do to set yourself apart at a relatively early stage in the game. In fact, many students don’t realize that there is a PSAT specifically designed for 10th graders called the PSAT-10.
Unlike the regular PSAT taken during 11th grade, the PSAT-10 is administered during the second semester of 10th grade and provides you with some insight into how you may fare on future tests. To learn more about why taking this test is a smart choice, read this post.
Show Colleges That You’re Serious
One reason it’s smart to take the PSAT in 10th grade is because it establishes a record of being serious about college early on. You can even fill out a portion of the answer sheet that allows some of your contact information to be released to colleges. You’ll begin to receive admissions pamphlets from colleges that will broaden your perspective.
While the most selective colleges don’t tend to seek out students based on their PSAT-10 scores, if you end up applying to them, they will still see that you took the PSAT-10 and will know that you were thinking about college as early as 10th grade, taking initiative to get yourself ahead.
Practice for Your 11th Grade PSAT
When you take the PSAT in 11th grade, there are some higher stakes than on the PSAT-10. Your PSAT score in 11th grade is used to qualify for National Merit Scholarships. National Merit Scholarship recognition is awarded to students who score amongst the highest scores in their states, region, and nationally.
In addition, scholarships are awarded to high scorers. These range in value from smaller scholarships worth a few hundred dollars, to much larger awards worth up to $2500. Taking the PSAT-10 means that you’ll already have some understanding of the test and a practice round under your belt before you take the test in 11th grade.
To learn more about the National Merit program, see these CollegeVine posts:
Practice For the SAT
The PSAT-10 isn’t just good practice for your 11th grade PSAT. It’s also good practice for your actual SAT. Odds are you won’t be taking the SAT until the second semester of 11th grade, but by taking the PSAT-10, you can gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses on a similar test far in advance.
Although the PSAT and the SAT are different tests, there are many elements of their format, types of questions, and even content matter that are very similar. By taking the PSAT-10, you can ensure that you have a firm understanding of how you perform and where you can improve.
To maximize this advantage, be sure to review your score report thoroughly. This means that you should look for patterns, areas in which you scored consistently higher or lower than others, and anything else that stands out. These score reports are very comprehensive, and by reviewing them carefully you’ll be able to learn a lot about your performance on this important series of tests.
Once you identify your areas of strength and weakness you’ll be able to better target your SAT prep when the time comes. You can think of the PSAT-10 as a very initial type of formative assessment, which is an essential step in any test prep. To learn more about how these scores might reflect your performance on an SAT in the future, see our posts Are PSAT Scores Related to SAT Scores? and What Does My PSAT Score Mean?.
How the PSAT Factors into AP Classes and Class Placement
The CollegeBoard has identified a positive correlation between PSAT scores and subsequent performance on AP exams. For this reason, some high schools now use the PSAT to help guide class placement. If you perform well on the PSAT, you might be able to register for more AP classes or other challenging coursework that will further distinguish you when you apply to colleges. If you aren’t sure about the policy at your high school speak with a guidance counselor to find out.
Whether your school uses PSAT score for class placement or not, you can still use your performance as a predictor of AP class success. If you perform well on the PSAT, you should consider adding some AP classes to your course load if you haven’t already. If you struggled with the PSAT, you might still consider AP classes, but know that you will need to bulk up on some knowledge or test-taking skills before AP exams in the spring.
Taking the PSAT in 10th grade is a good idea and can pay off in the long run in a variety of ways. As you progress towards the SAT and college applications, you can use your performance on the PSAT to help guide your preparations. In addition, you’ll gain important experience and be better prepared for the PSAT in 11th grade when stakes are higher. For more help getting ready for these important standardized tests, consider the benefits of CollegeVine’s full service, customized SAT Tutoring Program, where the brightest and most qualified tutors in the industry guide students to an average score increase of 140 points.
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